Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord | May 16, 2021
[Jesus] answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Brothers and Sisters,
Come, Holy Spirit, and strengthen our parish efforts to bear witness to the risen Lord!
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he assured his disciples of the abiding presence and guidance of the one to follow, the Holy Spirit. At the same time, they would not yet fully comprehend God’s plan to establish a lasting Kingdom here on earth. Despite the uncertainty, Christ’s disciples, like us, are imbued with authority to bear witness to the power of God’s grace to transform lives.
If I’m honest, commercials occupy more of my headspace than I’d care to admit. One commercial, in particular, first appearing about 14 years ago, left a lasting impression on me. In the ad-spot for AirTran Airways, two parents preparing for a plane trip abruptly pass their infant twins off to the babies’ grandparents, hastily greeting them at their door, then making a quick getaway to an awaiting taxi in the driveway. Dumbfounded, the grandfather chases after them, exclaiming, “Don’t leave us with the babies!”
At times, with our limited understanding, we can relate to this grandfather’s fear of abandonment. Jesus came and dwelt among us; he taught, healed the sick, and strived to restore the alienated. His followers felt revived—a people with a purpose full of hope. Until the script flipped and the source of their hope, Christ, died upon the cross. With all seeming lost, fear and anxiety threatened to crippled many of Jesus’ closest disciples. But our Lord, full of surprises, appears again, Resurrected to His chosen. Strengthening, encouraging them, while increasing their understanding of all He taught them. Perhaps once more, confusion sneaks when shortly afterward, Jesus ascends into heaven, seemingly leaving the early Christians with the massive responsibility of continuing his ministry.
But Jesus didn’t rush away, abandoning us, holding babies on our own doorstep. No, Jesus sent His Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who without fail never leaves us but instead equips us with spiritual gifts to enable us to live out Christ’s mission. As a parish, we have a responsibility to help one another recognize these gifts operating in each others’ lives. Only when we cooperate with the Spirit can we bear fruit while confidently conforming, our lives for Christ. As we prepare to enter into nine evenings of prayer with our Pentecost Novena beginning May 14 at 7 pm. I encourage you all to take advantage of this time and discern the gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon you and ask how to best use those gifts for the greater glory of God. Remember, we are never alone, be assured we have good counsel in the Holy Spirit along with the gifts necessary to bear witness to the Lord to spread the faith.
Rooted in the Second Vatican Council’s call to a strong formation and engagement, Pope Francis highlights the essential ministries of the lay faithful. Pope Francis initiated the path to formal recognition of laymen and women in the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. The Acolyte, a combination of Altar Server, Sacristan, and Communion Minister is centered on serving a vital role in enhancing worship. This past week, Pope Francis formally established the Ministry of Catechists and called upon the Church to set forth a path toward formally recognizing instituted catechists. The ministry of catechists embraces many forms and requires more than knowledge but a willingness to “accompany.” To teach God’s ways, Jesus journeyed with the disciples, getting to know them and, in turn, learning how best to teach them. Our parish continues to make considerable strides to elevate the mission of the catechists, accompanying families and supporting parents as the first teachers of the faith. While the formal formation and recognition of these ministries are not yet apparent, and we await clarity, we keep moving forward, identifying those with the gifts to instruct parishioners of all ages, children from preschool through high school as well as adults in varying stages of life. In the coming months, we as a parish have a lot of discerning to do while encouraging those among us who might be the perfect fit to serve in these expanding ministry roles. Please continue to pray about serving in these needed ministries.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett